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Bible Commentaries
Joshua 13

Grant's Commentary on the BibleGrant's Commentary

Verses 1-33


(vv. 1-25)

After this, because of Israel's further disobedience, the Lord brought them under bondage to the Philistines for forty long years (v. 1). In this case we are not told that Israel was broken enough to cry to God for deliverance. It seems as time went on, Israel became less and less sensitive to the seriousness of their evil condition. But God nevertheless had His eye on His people.

This time God chose to prepare a deliverer from the tribe of Dan, and He begins with the mother of the child to be born.The Angel of the Lord appeared to her, telling her that though she was barren, she would conceive and bear a son (v.3).The same was true of Sarah (Genesis 18:11-14), and later of Hannah (1 Samuel 1:2; 1 Samuel 1:20), then also of Elizabeth, wife of Zacharias (Luke 1:7; Luke 1:13).In all such cases, does the Lord not seek to make it plain that the son born is to be in a special sense His?

When the Angel of the Lord appeared to the wife of Manoah, telling her she would have a son, he impressed on her to be careful not to drink wine or similar drink and not to eat anything unclean (v.4), for her son would be a Nazerite to God from his birth.His hair must not be cut. CompareNumbers 6:1-8; Numbers 6:1-8, which chapter speaks of the vow as being voluntary. But God had decided this for Samson before his birth.There is serious spiritual instruction in what the Lord told the woman, however.Wine speaks of exhilarating joy, and certainly a mother should forego any kind of "living in pleasure" (1 Timothy 5:6).Eating unclean meats would speak of indulging in unclean, sinful practices. She was to have a son who would be influenced by her character and actions. We too have responsibility not to influence others badly.

The hair of the Nazirite was not to be cut. Long hair on a woman is a sign of her subjection to the authority of man (1 Corinthians 11:10), and thus Samson's long hair would make him resemble a woman, thus emphasizing his total subjection to the authority of the Lord (v. 5). The Nazirite was a type of the Lord Jesus, whose perfections in these three points stand out beautifully. Not that He was a literal Nazirite, for He did drink wine and there is no indication in scripture that He had long hair, though people imagine this and have painted pictures that cannot be trusted.

The woman then came to her husband, Manoah, to tell him of this unusual visitation and the message given her by the Angel (vv. 6-7). Manoah was impressed, but felt it a heavy responsibility to train a son who was to have a special place in Israel. He prayed therefore that God would send the Angel back to teach them how to care for or train their son (v. 8). God answered this request by the appearance of the Angel again to the woman while she was alone. She ran to call her husband, who came immediately (vv. 9-11) and asked the question as to how the boy should be trained in view of his work (v. 12).

The Angel of the Lord however did not give any more information than He had to Manoah's wife. He does not say anything about the boy's training. Why not? Because the boy should be trained just as any other boy should be trained. But He does emphasize the responsibility of the mother. She was not to eat anything that came from the vine, nor to drink wine, nor eat anything unclean (vv. 13-14).This is a striking witness that the character and actions of a mother will have great influence over her children.

Manoah was evidently a God-fearing man, and he wanted to prepare a meal for the Angel. But the Angel told him He would not eat of his food, yet if he wanted to offer a burnt offering he must offer it to the Lord(vv. 15-16).The Angel was the Lord Himself, but Manoah did not know this, and an offering must not be made to a mere man nor a mere angel.

However, Manoah wanted to know this man's name so that he could honor him after his word came to pass (v.17). Thus, Manoah's thoughts were too much on the messenger, not on the Lord. So the Angel asked him why he enquired about His name, seeing it is wonderful (v. 18).In other words, His name was above Manoah's understanding, a name to cause him to wonder.

Then Manoah took his offering, a young goat, together with a grain offering, and offered these on a rock to the Lord.Then an amazing miracle took place before their eyes. As the flame of the sacrifice burned brightly, the Angel of the Lord ascended in the flame (vv. 19-20). What a demonstration to Manoah and his wife that this Visitant was no less than the Lord Himself! The Lord Jesus is the true burnt offering, that which ascends in fire to God.So that this visitation is one of the theophanies of scripture, that is, an Old Testament appearing of the Lord Jesus before the time of His actual incarnation.No one can have any idea in what body He came, or whether it was a tangible physical body, but in each case it was a temporary appearing, not such as John describes in lJohn 1:1; John 1:1, where he speaks of the disciples handling the Lord Jesus with their hands.

Verse 21 informs us that Manoah realized that they had seen the Angel of the Lord, and he rightly deduces that this was God (v. 22), being afraid that they would die since they had seen God! For God had said to Moses, "No man shall see Me and live" (Exodus 33:20). However, this was not a full revelation of God, but only partial (See1 Timothy 6:16; 1 Timothy 6:16).

Manoah's wife wisely answered her husband that if the Lord desired to kill them He would not have accepted an offering from them, nor would He have foretold the birth of Samson and given her the instructions He had.This was simple, straightforward logic.She was without doubt a believer, but she does not appear to have the same spiritual exercise as Hannah did(1 Samuel 2:1-10).

Her son then being born, he grew and was blessed by God, who by His Spirit began to move him in a certain area. No doubt this had to do with a serious concern to honor the Lord, though as yet nothing was said as to anything that he accomplished. God was working with him, but we do not see in Samson a serious concern to be guided by the Word of God.

Bibliographical Information
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Joshua 13". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lmg/joshua-13.html. 1897-1910.
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